free tracking

It is a crying shame that this was never finished.

The idea for the game was influenced by Activision’s ‘Little Computer people’.

I’m not sure who had the original idea for this, probably it came from the then head of design Jim Bambra, but it may well have Paul Hibbard wanting something 'soap-opera-like' . Either way I liked it from the moment I first heard about it.

The game started out with the working title 'Little People', which stuck for a while, but that name was already nabbed by Fisher Price for a range of toys so it had to change (and was too close to Activision's title as well).


The into to the game started with you dying in an vehicle accident. You end up climbing the staircase of the afterlife and entering the celestial job centre, where you get a job as a caretaker for a small world beneath a dome.

The idea was that you would be given tasks to do by the absentee deity (such as getting a character a new job or into/out of a relationship etc.) that you had to complete by changing the character’s statistics in some way (e.g. making them hungrier, or more amorous) so that via a sequence of actions you got what you wanted.


Citizens was ahead of its time and not many of those in the US upper management could see its potential. I know this because I was working in Texas on Master of Orion 2 when someone high up at from Spectrum Holobyte was touring around and talking about the projects at other studios (I can’t remember his name). He had been Microprose’s UK (Chipping Sodbury) office and was very dismissive of Citizens – he just couldn’t understand the appeal of a game about indirectly controlling the lives of AI characters. He was surprised that someone from the UK was there.

I could see then that it was likely to be canned – which it was a few months later.


A couple of years later ‘The Sims’ burst onto the scene – a game where you control the lives of AI characters - but we could have released well ahead of them. Many of the same ideas are present in citizens as are found in the Sims (such as thought bubbles to show what they want).

This was one of the first times I really saw how inept and short-sighted many of those making creative decisions in the industry can be – but I’ve seen it many times since. As soon as a company ceases to be controlled by its creatives it’s effectively doomed.


I was a senior artist at Microprose at the time – so my input was largely art-related. I worked as the lead artist on this and directly worked on the intro, main interface and some of the ingame graphics, along with organising the art in general, but the whole thing is really a composite that includes the work of many other more talented artists (such as Eddie Garnier, Paul Ayliffe, Martin Smillee and Simon Foster).


The game designer on Citizens was Richard Bakewell and it was coming along nicely, even making it  as far as being a cover disk demo – which can be seen being played in this YouTube clip:

XCom - Alliance


Terry Greer

Ghosts of Games that never were



Unreal PSX

River Raid


Blitz Pitches

The intro sequence was never finished, I was creating it using the original dos version of 3D studio (this was before 3DS Max) as a rostrum camera to create 2D animation using artwork created from everyone working on the game – some of the 2d images were boned so they could be distorted.


Until recently the only files I had were in FLC format - but Michael Carr-Robb-John managed to extract them as individual images so I knocked up the AVI you see above and stuck it up on YouTube with a hastily added background audio track.


It was only work in progress, and abandoned when citizens was canceled -  but it still stands up.


At some point I'll also try and add a link to the cover disk demo.








The Citizens team

(Sorry but there's a couple of names I can't recall)

Back Row: Mark James, ? , Me (Terry Greer), John Broomhall, Alex Mclean, ?, Jim Bambra, James Hawkins, Martin Severn, Richard Bakewell, Eddie Garnier

Front Row: Michael Carr-Robb-John, Paul Ayliffe, Marc Curtis, Pete Austin

(photo courtesy Martin Severn - circa 1995/1996)


The game was just starting to get into a playable state when it was canned. There were issues with it, the interface needed vastly simplifying – but I had some plans for that.

The slideshow here includes a smattering of the work in progress images from the game.